by Matt Mattson
There's a lot of shouting right now. Has been for a while. And I don't blame the shouters. They have a right to be angry, to shout, to fight, and to rage against the powers that be. I'm mad too. And it is a fine place to start.
But what if you want to make this world a better place for the long-haul? What if you want to make impact beyond surface-level, and truly transform the world to be a better place for you, your neighbor, and everyone?
I don't think anger and fighting can sustain. I think love must lead.
There have been plenty of brilliant thinkers over the years who have taught just that.
To actually change the world, and not just rearrange it, we have to come together and do work fueled by love.
If you find yourself looking for proof everyone is against you. If you find yourself able to see the darkness in anyone. If you find yourself posting, shouting, tearing down, retweeting, commenting, dismantling, unseating, blaming, or shaming... you might not be wrong at all. And it might be temporarily helpful. But that fighting can not sustain. It can't sustain you, and it can't sustain the cause you're meaning to champion.
I offer these 5 Considerations For Becoming Socially Transformative (Beyond Social Excellence). If they strike you as helpful in the short-term or in the long-term, I hope you consider applying them to your efforts to change the world.
HONOR EACH TRUTH
We must find each other's lived truth to be worthy and valuable. No matter how different it might be from our own.
Every person has acted or will act based on the lessons they've learned (right or wrong) throughout their life and their perception of the likelihood of those actions to gain them more love (or to keep them safer). Each person, no matter how much distance between their point of view and your own, is seeking safety, love, and a way to matter in this world - just like you. I know you think their choices to achieve those things are ridiculous. They think the same of you. But understanding, honoring, and celebrating the authentic truth of each person you encounter is the only way forward.
To change the world (through ways other than annihilating the enemy) requires working with them. Their truth is true. It might be uncomfortable and hurtful and dangerous to your truth, but it is true. Start by loving it.
Everyone seems to be in a race to be right. And the more certain your team is about its rightness, the safer you feel. But I believe that nothing is hurting our world more right now than certainty.
Certainty in our politics is deepening the divide between us. Certainty in our religion is poisoning the deepest waters of our humanity. Certainty in our rightness and the wrongness of "the other" is limiting our ability to engage with those others in a way that might allow them to learn from our perspective (and maybe even vice versa).
What if we chose to relish uncertainty? What if "I'm not sure, but I'm trying to learn" became our mantra? What if all you've been told about what's certain couldn't possibly be if many others are certain about their point of view?
I have faith in uncertainty. I cherish it. I worship it. We were created as beings able to learn and grow and change and improve. That gift in the way we were created is divine. When we dive deeply into the pool of uncertainty we are tapping into the very essence of our human potential. Our curiosity, our wonder, our inquisitiveness, and our sense of possibility might be the most powerful tools we have. They are to be credited for everything that has advanced us (and admittedly the things that have harmed us too).
A mindset that rejects blind and immature certainty but pursues ever improving answers with passion will win the day. This is the mindset we need to engage one another respectfully and hopefully.
Lead with love. In every interaction. In every encounter. In every moment. Lead with love. Especially when it is unexpected.
Love those you might feel justified to hate. Love those who are indifferent to your cause. Love those who are hurtful and bring pain.
Is that sometimes nearly impossible because we're only humans? Yes. Try anyway.
I'm not the first person (by far) to suggest love as the only path forward. And perhaps I only barely understand what it means. But the alternatives seem both obviously ineffective and overly employed.
I think we all have a choice in every moment to approach it with love or not. I choose love. And it is a powerful force for change.
HEIGHTEN YOUR PERSPECTIVE
A socially transformative person has to be able to see beyond the tunnel vision that seems rational. A view from above is required. Meditating on a universe-level perspective provides insight and wisdom that leaves mere knowledge and experiences seeming trite.
This, to me, is the power of philosophy and spirituality. To elevate our point of view to that of God or Truth or eons. Tuning into these channels with one ear while keeping the other side of our head pressed firmly to the ground of others' true everyday lived experiences is both difficult and required of a socially transformative person.
ACT, GO, DO
Start at home. Start with what's right in front of you. Go. Act on it. Create something. Hit send. Commit. Start living as if. Charge hard in the direction of the world you want. Talk sucks; work.
These are my best guesses at truth right now. I want to help people gather together more often and more effectively so that they might help one another transform society. The basic principles of Social Excellence apply. This blog is my first stab at answering the question, "What's next?" If someone chooses to live their life with Social Excellence, what's the next level? How do they move from being excellent to becoming socially transformative change agents.
*Thanks to Rev. Justin Spurlock for pushing me on the term "Social Transformation." Thanks to everyone I expect to criticize this post (either silently or publicly). I appreciate that you read it. I recognize my privileged point of view. I recognize the ease with which I suggest these things. I recognize the safety from which I write. I hit send anyway because it felt important.